“For me, it’s the unexpected and surprising combinations of produce that are the most exciting and lure me into the kitchen for a little bit of experimenting. Apples and sweet potatoes together? Who knew? Carrots with grapes? Okay. I may not be Julia Child, but I can do pretty well with a simple recipe and a lot of enthusiasm.”- Marlo Thomas
When I find a food combination that I love I immediately look for new ways to enjoy it. One of my favorite Meatless Monday food combinations is black beans & sweet potatoes. Not only is the combination filling but you can experiment with so many flavors and spice blends.
Sweet potatoes have a mild flavor but when you season them with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and let them simmer over the stove top you’ll soon have slightly smoky aroma filling your kitchen.
When I make this recipe I start by making the filling first. Sweet potatoes can be difficult to chop if they are very large so when I go grocery shopping I usually look for a bag with smaller sweet potatoes. Trader Joe’s usually has them and at Giant there is an organic brand I buy that has the perfect size for chopping into small pieces. This filling is really packed with flavor. If I have time I’ll often make a double batch of the filling and use it to make quesadillas, or as a topping for nachos or salads.
When I first starting cooking and baking I definitely began with simple recipes. Chicken and rice all day every day! That being said I soon learned that even the most complicated recipes can be conquered with practice and patience. Making your own crust or dough can seem challenging, but once you master it you’ll find it’s a fun process and yields a delicious homemade pastry. This recipe combines the best of both worlds of butter and shortening for a nice butter flavor with a flaky crust.
Start by mixing together the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. I use a pastry blender to cut in the shortening and butter until the mixture is crumbly. You can also you the “two knives” method. In another bowl whisk together the milk and one egg. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until dough starts to take shape.
Once the dough is formed, place it on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. Use a ramekin or other circle shape to cut the dough into 12 portions. You can use the rolling pin to further flatten each circle a little more.
Take about 2-4 tablespoons of filling and scoop onto the center of each dough circle. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges to seal.
Use the end of a fork to press the seal the edges further and place the filled empanadas on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the filled empanadas with the eggs/water mixture and bake at 425° for 20 minutes until the crust is golden.
These are great to serve warm as appetizers or as a side dish. I’ve also made these and paired them with stuffed peppers. Either way they are a great grab and go snack/meal/appetizer that will be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
- Yield: 12 empanadas
Mini Sweet Potato & Black Bean Empanadas
Adapted from, Better Homes & Gardens: Mexican All Time Favorites
- Garlic - 3 cloves, minced
- Onions - 1/2 cup, chopped
- Sweet Potatoes - 1 & 1/2 cups, chopped
- Black Beans - 1 cup
- Tomato Sauce - 1 - 8 oz can
- Chili Powder - 1 teaspoon
- Cumin - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 3 cups
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Shortening - 1/2 cup
- Butter - 1/4 cup
- 2% Milk - 1/2 cup
- Eggs - 2, separated
- Water - 1 tablespoon
For the filling:
- In a large skillet, cook onions and garlic over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the spices, tomato paste and black beans and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the pastry:
- In a large bowl combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup milk and one of the eggs. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. If dough seems too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons milk to make a dough that is easy to handle. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; shape into a ball.
- In a small bowl, place remaining egg and water, beat together using a fork.
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. Use a ramekin to cut the dough into 12 portions. Place about 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each dough circle. Brush the edge of each dough circle with milk/egg mixture. Fold dough circle in half, pinching edge to seal. If desired, press edge with a fork. Place filled empanadas on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Brush egg mixture over empanadas. Prick the edges with tines of a fork.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until empanadas are golden brown and heated through.